SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- In this chapter we see two new characters, both beasts, who have been the subject of much speculation and debate.
- One comes out of the sea (verses 1-10) and has all sorts of weird features. The description of this beast is very similar to a vision in the Old Testament book of Daniel. There the animals represent political regimes, which could also be the case here. These symbols could point towards a powerful ruler who hates God and follows the devil.
- The beast who comes from the land (verses 11-18) has a more mild appearance but a commanding voice. Some see this beast as representing a religion or religious figure that supports the first beast. In fact this “lamb” commands everyone to worship the other beast and goes as far as prohibiting economic freedoms for those who refuse.
- The chapter ends by mentioning the number of the beast: 666. It's possible the initial recipients of this letter understood what this number represented, but since then a myriad of theories have been postulated. The truth is that we don't know; its meaning will remain a mystery.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- There's a lot we probably can't understand from this chapter, but it's pretty clear that there is and will be a lot to deceive, distract, and persecute Christians. As verse 10 says, "This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God's people."
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- What tends to deceive or distract you from staying committed to the truth and following Jesus? Is it things related to politics? Religion? Materialism? Something else? And what can help you to continue in your patient endurance and faithfulness? What can you do today? Do it.